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Shrink on the Mat – December 2011/January 2012

December 1, 2011
“I have been doing ashtanga and vinyasa yoga regularly for the last 6 years and have recently fallen pregnant and started ante-natal yoga classes. I find it mentally very challenging as the classes are extremely slow and I miss my strong physical workout. Should I stick out the ante-natal classes or is it safe to return to my usual vinyasa class?”

As you already have been doing a regular practice for the last 6 years, and you have held a strong practice, you could continue to practice safely with modifications all the way through your third trimester. Of course you need to make sure that you have agreement from your specialist, (hopefully a specialist who is open to and informed on yoga practice!). Also make sure that your yoga teacher knows your stage of pregnancy. An experienced yoga teacher will be able to help you with modifications.

A few suggestions: In general avoid extreme backbending, long durations of lying on the back after 20 weeks, (reduces blood flow to the uterus), and twisting. Avoid poses that can stretch the muscles too much, particularly the abdominal muscles. Due to the pregnancy hormone relaxin you will be more prone to straining and injury right now. Bend from the hips and lift the chest to avoid compression. Most importantly monitor how you are feeling closely and if you feel any discomfort, stop.

Your vinyasa practice, if done correctly, can stand you in good stead over this time and during the birth and will help you with breathing in labour, flexibility in the hips and a faster recovery.

The benefits of the ante natal class however should also be considered: a place to meet other expectant mothers, so a potential source of support, sharing and connection. Also, learning to slow down, rest and take care of yourself over this special time can be an important skill that you will take with you through to motherhood.

Linda Kantor is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher and practitioner who has been in private practice for the past 15 years.
Have a question about yoga? Email Linda directly or
2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2011 8:42 pm

    Thanks for the great article. I also found that ante-natal classes were too slow for me and boy, did I miss my twists and lying on my tummy! So I continued with normal classes during both my pregnancies (I’ve been practising yoga for almost 15 years), modifying as I went along. Teaching prenatal classes has made me appreciate their value as so much more than physical-it moves so much more into the realm of community and support of like-minded people going through the same thing. And so it’s all about finding what works best for you, wherever you are (pregnant or not) and embracing it!

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